United States manager Gregg Berhalter confirmed Thursday that 18-year-old Sergino Dest will start for the United States against Mexico in tomorrow’s friendly, a move that will give the federation hope that the dual-national will eventually commit his long-term international future to the USMNT.
Dest, who plays his club ball at Dutch giants Ajax, is also eligible to play for the Netherlands, his country of birth. However, the full-back has plyed his entire youth career in the U.S. setup, and while he refused to commit to the United States long-term when asked yesterday about the possibility, earning his full debut against a bitter rival should go a long way towards making that a reality.
The young defender has seen his stock soar over the past few months, serving as a standout component of the United States’ U-20 squad that reached the quarterfinals of this summer’s World Cup. He also has recently become a regular in the Ajax squad, high praise in a club that reached the semifinals of the Champions League last season. Dest has played in seven of Ajax’s nine matches so far this season across all competitions, with four starts and three full 90’s.
While Dest’s strengths are going forward and he is still working on the defensive aspect of his game, his record this season with Ajax shows improvement. The club conceded two goals in the four matches he has started in thus far, while the only Eredivise match he did not appear in, the side drew 2-2 with Vitesse in the season opener. He started and completed a full 90 minutes in a 2-0 shutout win over PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Super Cup, and has appeared in three of the club’s four Champions League qualifying games against APOEL and PAOK.
It is unclear how deep Berhalter will dive into the well of international debuts for this match, with Paxton Pomykal and Miles Robinson also receiving their first call-ups, with the potential to earn their first caps as well.